For almost a week their voices — angry, entitled, vengeful and bitter — have echoed over the airwaves. And in their wake has come the sound and fury of recrimination.
Across the globe, the Harry and Meghan interview has divided families, communities and even nations. Its fallout has been greater than anyone could have imagined. We have been bisected by race, by gender and by age.
The viewing figures alone are staggering: a television audience of 50 million so far — a number that is still growing.
A self-made billionaire, she is the most successful — and richest — media star on the planet.
Hugely respected, compassionate and possessing a credibility unmatched by any other broadcaster, she is America’s royalty.
But with that authority and that status come obligations. When the claims come as thick and fast as they did from Harry and Meghan, it is hard to keep up. But due to their gravity, every single one must be challenged.
Regrettably, that did not happen last Sunday night. Claims went untested, troubling allegations based on second-hand conversations were undisputed, and interpretations left unopposed and therefore accepted as the truth.
Gripping television it may have been, as Harry set about his family with an at times cold and ruthless detachment, but viewers were entitled to ask — and to expect — that these assertions would be questioned.
In the space of almost 90 minutes the reputations of the monarchy and of individual Royal Family members were dismantled.
Yet even the most egregious of the couple’s inflammatory remarks, such as those about racism, were allowed to escape serious scrutiny.
It is hard to imagine a Dimbleby, a Paxman or a Humphrys allowing so many damaging statements to pass without drilling down to find context and perspective.
By any stretch of the imagination, the Harry and Meghan claims demanded to be properly and thoroughly investigated.
Here, the Mail lays bare the contradictions and inaccuracies at the heart of their interview, untangling fact from fiction.
And today we appeal to U.S. broadcaster CBS and Oprah Winfrey herself: based on our report, can we now look forward to a follow-up — Harry & Meghan . . . The Other Side Of The Story?
Tears over flower girls
Six months after the 2018 royal wedding, reports began to emerge that Meghan had made Kate cry following a fitting for the bridesmaids’ dresses (Princess Charlotte was one of Meghan’s six bridesmaids).
But Meghan claims that, in reality, ‘the reverse happened’, telling Oprah that she was the one who had been reduced to tears, not Kate. In her interview, she claimed Kate had subsequently said sorry for the incident, too.
‘It was a really hard week of the wedding. And she was upset about something, but she owned it, and she apologised.
And she brought me flowers and a note, apologising. And she did what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone, right, to just take accountability for it.’
Intriguingly, The Times this week shed further light on the episode, reporting that the day after the incident, the Duchess of Cambridge had indeed taken a bunch flowers to Nottingham Cottage, Harry and Meghan’s home at Kensington Palace at the time, as a peace offering.
According to the newspaper, Meghan then slammed the door in her future sister-in-law’s face.
If that’s true, one can safely assume that both she and Kate were hugely upset. It’s therefore perfectly possible that both cried.
However, a third scenario is presented by perhaps the most compelling source of all: Meghan’s pet journalist, Omid Scobie.
In his biography Finding Freedom, published with Meghan’s apparent approval, he confidently declared that no one had cried, saying: ‘There were no tears from anyone.’
The ‘pre-wedding’ that wasn’t
According to Harry and Meghan, the star-studded wedding watched by the world — and which British taxpayers funded to the tune of more than £30 million — was an expensive sham.
Instead, they told a slack-jawed Oprah that they’d actually plighted their troth in a secret ceremony 72 hours earlier.
‘Three days before our wedding, we got married,’ Meghan claimed. ‘No one knows that. But we called the Archbishop, and we just said: ‘Look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world, but we want our union between us.’
‘So, like, the vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.’ Harry added, singing: ‘Just the three of us!’
It was quite the revelation. But if there really were just ‘three’ people present, then a legal wedding can’t actually have happened.
This is because the law dictates that anyone marrying in England needs two witnesses, as well as the person officiating. In other words, at least five people must be there.
Furthermore, if what Harry and Meghan told Oprah was true, it follows that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the man in charge of the worldwide Anglican communion, had not only broken the law, but then presided over a fake royal wedding at St George’s Chapel, at Windsor Castle, on May 19, 2018, in the presence of the groom’s grandmother, the Queen, who is the titular head of the Church of England.
This didn’t happen, according to the Special Licences Section of the Office of the Archbishop, which commented this week: ‘A special licence was issued for the marriage in St George’s.’
So what really happened in the couple’s ‘backyard’? According to an informed source at Lambeth Palace, the episode Meghan refers to was actually a ‘rehearsal’ of the wedding ceremony, during which — as is normal — the couple went through their wedding vows.
At its conclusion the archbishop, Justin Welby, also blessed the couple. What he did not do was marry them.
Sibling she hasn’t seen for 18 years?
Asked about her half-sister Samantha Markle, her father’s daughter by his first marriage, who has penned a tell-all book, Meghan responds: ‘I think it would be very hard to tell all when you don’t know me.’
She said she had grown up as an only child and had last seen her sibling, ’18, 19 years ago . . . and ten years before that’.
Not true, says Samantha, who has been a persistent critic of her sister, citing this graduation picture of the two of them, which she says was taken in 2008.
‘We’ve got photographs over a lifespan of us together. So how can she not know me?’
Samantha also dismissed Meghan’s claim that her half-sister had changed her name back to Markle — her married name was Grant — only after Harry arrived on the scene.
Samantha says the name change was in 1997 — and she has the certificate to prove it.
Let’s get the story straight
Staff DID fight for them
Whatever took place during the wedding dispute, Meghan appears to have been hugely upset that the claim she’d ‘made Kate cry’ ended up in print.
She told Oprah that she found it ‘hard to get over’ the Palace’s failure to then put her version of events on the record.
Later, she elaborated: ‘They were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.’
It’s unclear (because Oprah failed to ask) who exactly these ‘liars’ were. Or what ‘lies’ they supposedly told.
However, convention would have made it impossible for royal press officers to make any comment on what was a deeply personal (and private) incident in which basic facts were likely to be in dispute.
As an insider told us: ‘There were clearly two versions of the same event. Whatever the institution said would only draw more attention to it.’
Palace press officers are, of course, public servants. Unlike Hollywood PR agents, they cannot — and should not — contest every single false rumour.
Conveniently ignored by Meghan in this whole rumpus is the fact that Palace spin-doctors did indeed go to war on her behalf on several high-profile occasions, knocking down many stories that were put to them (and were not published as a result).
Notably, they formally denied stories about her alleged extravagance in the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage. They also brought two cases to the Press regulator, Ipso, on the Sussexes’ behalf, winning one and losing the other.
The truth about royal protocol and princes
When their son was born, Harry and Meghan chose not take up his courtesy title, the Earl of Dumbarton. Neither would he be called ‘Lord Archie’, the established form for the son of a Duke. Instead, plain old ‘Archie’ would do.